Those blue guys are not aliens; they’re members of Blue Man Group, bringing their energy and enigma to Denver
It’s 10 minutes to show time at a performance of Blue Man Group, and the noise in the theatre is so loud that the audience seems more like a group of revelers at a party than spectators in a theatre. People are boisterous, anticipation is high, the buzz is electric. By the time the Blue Men appear, the audience is screaming with delight.
It’s a scene repeated most nights in New York, Boston, Chicago, Orlando, Vegas and wherever Blue Man Group is appearing. How often do you see theatre audiences so revved up at the end of most shows, let alone before one has even begun? The decibel level rises as the evening goes on. By the end, the atmosphere is euphoric.
The Blue Man Group experience is unique and not confined to the United States. There are or have been productions in Tokyo, Toronto, and numerous European cities including Berlin, London, and Amsterdam. Millions of people of all ages and nationalities have seen the show, and countless numbers are repeat visitors. Although the off-Broadway production has been around since 1991, the demand for it is still strong and Blue Man Group has heeded the call with this, its first national tour—a tour that features a combination of the Blue Men’s most popular pieces with fresh material created exclusively for this iteration.
Why all the excitement?
It’s impossible to say exactly. Blue Man Group is totally off the grid—a contemporary comedic piece, performed by three silent, bald-and-blue characters who engage in a variety of set pieces ranging from primitive to sophisticated that combine music, comedy, science, technology and mind-boggling creativity. Just as in old-time vaudeville, they have something for everyone.
“We’ve done surveys to figure out who our audience is, and we’ve found that our demographic ranges from eight to 85 years old,” says Puck Quinn, creative director of character development and appearances. “That’s when we know we’re doing something right. A kid can come to the show and just enjoy the rhythm or the mess or the colors or the spectacle. Adults can come and do the exact same thing, but they might also come away with something to think about. When we do our work well, the show succeeds on multiple levels.”
Amid the riot of colors and music, the eating and flying food, are the LED screens displaying sometimes silly, sometimes witty, sometimes thought-provoking messages. There also is a sonorous pre-recorded voice guiding the audience through clever set pieces about a variety of topics such as modern plumbing, technology and choreography.
But the Blue Man Group show is mostly visual and aural—as opposed to oral. The Men are mute by choice. Language is not an issue, so the show travels well to other countries. Beating paint-covered drums and creating cascades of color has visceral appeal in any culture, and the “feast”—in which a member of the audience joins the Blue Men onstage to dine on… a Twinkie—retains its humor and sweetness wherever it plays.
“I think the reason the show works goes back to our ideas about the character,” says Phil Stanton, co-founder of Blue Man Group with Matt Goldman and Chris Wink all those years ago. “It might sound heady to talk about it this way, but the Blue Man is a kernel of humanity or a kind of Everyman. The blue paint gets rid of race and nationality.”
Adds Quinn: “The show deals with topics and issues that are common to every culture: Communication. Sensory overload. Beating music and heavy rhythm. Dancing. All of that crosses every border. We have things that we want to say, and the message is there if you want to hear it, but we don’t care if you don’t. We just want everyone to have fun.”
The relationship between the Blue Men and the audience is the most intriguing part of this phenomenon. The audience could be considered an additional—and unpredictable—character. It’s not just that a woman from the audience is selected to appear onstage each night to partake in the “feast,” or that a man is chosen to get “Jelloed” (a new verb?) or that viewers in the first few rows are so close to the action that they’re given ponchos to wear in case paint or other stuff lands on them. It’s that the audience response catalyzes the Blue Men. That symbiosis is what fuels the passions of the show’s devoted fans.
“The relationship with the audience is everything,” underscores Matt Goldman, “because at the end of the day, the Blue Man is really just trying to connect. He knows, either intellectually or at gut level, that in order to get to that ecstatic, heightened moment, he must connect with these strangers. That’s why the Blue Man is so respectful [of his viewers]. He wants their trust. It’s all about connection.”
Clearly, Blue Man Group is connecting. Stanton recalls a man who saw the show 70 times (“he wasn’t a weirdo”) and others who’ve seen it 20 or 30 times. “Usually, if people see a play they liked, they’ll tell their friends to go see it,” says Quinn, “but with our show, people want the experience of seeing it with their friends. And that creates energy and intensity from the start…. It’s not a passive experience. It’s more like going to a sporting event.
“I tell people that you don’t really start seeing the layers of the onion peeled back until you see the show for the second or third time. I also think people come back for very specific reasons: they want to really listen to the music or pay attention to a particular moment because they couldn’t quite figure out how it was done. And they come back because they want to see how the show is different from night to night. The other thing is, we change the show. Every couple of years we swap out a whole bunch of material. We want it to be relevant to time and period.”
The national tour should only expand Blue Man Group’s fan base and recidivists will discover a performance quite different from its predecessors.
“We are going to be in large theatres, and that was one of the main impulses for finding another way to deliver a lot of the content,” says Stanton. “We have a new set design, with LED surfaces and LED curtains. It gives the show a completely different look. And we’ve found that we can use the technology to help people focus more.”
The finale—one of Blue Man Group’s most celebrated hallmarks—is now completely new; replacing it, its creators say, took guts.
“We always wanted the show to feel like it was working toward that moment, that ending, when all the things that make us fragmented in the modern world go away and we become one group,” says Stanton. “It’s hinted at in certain places during the show, and that’s what the arc of the evening is about: two cultures encountering each other and realizing by the end that there are no barriers between them….
“There aren’t many places where you can be with strangers and have this shared experience. The new finale has a similar concept, and the same goal: to make the audience look around and encounter other people. Visually, we’re taking it to another level. We hope audiences will find it even more powerful.”
Material for this article is courtesy of the Blue Man Group website.
By Sylvie Drake
For nearly 60 years, he’s usurped Mark Twain’s persona as his mantle and Twain’s perspicacity as his rapier. Both still apply.
Did you know…. that actor Hal Holbrook was a member of the first Lincoln Center Repertory Company (1963), did a whole lot of regional theatre, film and TV, won numerous Emmys, including one for his role as host and narrator of Portrait of America, a five-year cable TV project that garnered the 1984 Peabody?
Of course not.
You and the world inevitably think of Hal Holbrook primarily as Mark Twain, thanks to his irrepressible solo performance in Mark Twain Tonight!, a now legendary characterization of the 19th century humorist and writer that grew out of a post-World War II honors project at Ohio’s Denison University.
That should give you some idea of how long Holbrook’s been spreading Twain’s gospel to an ever-renewing public eager to listen.
To hear Holbrook tell it, this was all an accident. Born in Cleveland in 1925 where his first role in the theatre was in The Man Who Came to Dinner at Cleveland’s Cain Park Theatre, he grew up in Massachusetts. He and his two sisters were reared there by their grandparents (and assorted boarding schools) after their mother, a dancer in vaudeville and musical comedy, disappeared when her children were little, and their father did a similar vanishing act soon after.
By the time Holbrook left Denison, he was married and he and his first wife, Ruby Johnson, had developed a two-person show consisting of characters from Shakespeare to (yes) Mark Twain. They took it on the road, touring the 8am school assembly circuit in a freezing Southwest, doing 307 shows in 30 weeks, and racking up 30,000 miles on their station wagon, with costumes that often had to be defrosted before they could be worn.
The Twain characterization might have perished right there, but Holbrook was cast in a soap opera in New York and became sufficiently bored with it that he began to expand his repertoire of Twain material in sheer self-defense. When TV’s Ed Sullivan saw the polished oneman piece in a small New York theatre and offered Holbrook national exposure on his hugely popular variety show, there was no turning back.
The down side of that success was that young Hal was being offered mostly old-man roles. The up side, though he didn’t know it at the time, was that Mark Twain Tonight! would become the singular, solo creation that he’s played all over the country (including Broadway, where it earned him a 1966 Tony® Award) that would keep rewarding him—artistically, emotionally, financially—for the rest of his life. It is a lasting achievement without equal.
This turn of events threatened, but was not allowed to impede a much richer and fuller career. On stage he tackled everything—from comedy to drama, musicals to Chekhov, Miller to Shakespeare, careening from Hotspur and Shylock to the vaulting King Lear, without flinching at the sheer magnitude and range of his undertakings.
“I was introduced to acting that way, playing everything” he told this writer in 1996, when he came through Denver in the title role of Death of a Salesman. (His most recent film achievement is playing Francis Preston Blair in Spielberg’s Lincoln.)
“I dove into the theatre to get behind disguises,” he confessed. “As a kid, I’d scare the neighborhood as the Hunchback of Notre Dame. If I’d learned just to play myself I might have become some kind of movie star, but I thwarted that by taking on roles that allowed me to get at the heart of a character.
“In the theatre, when you deal with the literature, you learn to inhabit those amazing characters.”
Yet the most amazing of those characters remains his portrayal of the pugnacious, cigar-chomping Mark Twain, a wit and writer Holbrook deeply admires and with whom he is on very intimate terms after almost 60 years of being him on stage. Not only does he find Twain’s perceptions brilliant, but also extremely modern. He has taken Twain’s writings—paragraphs, lines and sentences—to create an ever-changing, revolving-door script. By changing the words he chooses to say from one performance to the next, Holbrook enlivens the event and keeps it fresh.
When we met on a wintry Los Angeles afternoon in his home library recently, Holbrook was fired up. On cue, eyes, energy and indignation blazing, he expounded not only on the astonishing career he has made out of playing one of America’s greatest citizen-philosophers (a journey now chronicled in his 2011 autobiography, Harold, the Boy Who Became Mark Twain), but also on his boundless admiration for what he sees as Twain’s prophetic vision of this country’s often rogue and difficult trajectory and uncertain future.
“He was the first tremendously successful author in this country,” he said. “In the 1870s, after the Civil War, his career took off, he came east, and the country took off. The Industrial Revolution began, fed by Mr. Lincoln saying go ahead, put down the transcontinental railroad. Mark Twain, still in his thirties, became the confidant of Andrew Carnegie, of Mr. Vanderbilt—he sailed on his yacht—of young John Rockefeller, of every single one of these people: [Jay] Gould, J.P. Morgan.
“In those days, no TV, so they all belonged to clubs, the Players Club, the Lotus Club. They all knew each other, had lunches, made fun of each other, had fun with each other. Twain watched them, looked at them, went home and wrote about them. He saw the great turn that had happened in this country, from an agrarian to an industrialized nation, which became, in a period of 30 or 40 years, an industrial giant.
“I am putting in a new piece of material,” he announced with unconcealed fanfare. “This is a quote: ‘We can’t get out of it now. No mistake. We are the kind of world power that a prairie-dog village is, and our government must stand sentinel on top of our little world-power mound and, with lifted nose, solemn face and curved paws, look out over the vast prairie. And if we see anything that doesn’t look right, because we’re a world power and our civilization is wonderful in many spectacular ways…’ ”
The rest of this quote throws down a gauntlet to an America Twain presciently saw as having lost its way. “ ‘It’s a civilization,’ ” the quote sums up, that “ ‘has destroyed the simplicity and repose of life, its poetry, its soft romantic dreams and visions, and replaced them with a money fever, shorted ideals, vulgar ambitions and a sleep that does not refresh.’ ” No wonder Holbrook stands in awe.
“You could start the American Dream with Abraham Lincoln as the epitome of the Great American Story,” he said. “You go from Lincoln to Twain and the disintegration that he began to write about in The Gilded Age and other late works, and you know he was beginning to see the erosion of the purity of our values.
“If you think that Mark Twain was just becoming a road exercise for me, think again,” he added. “It’s the only way that I am able to get rid of my anger and frustration. I can get out there and say something that means something to me and, I believe, to the American public that may not even understand the magnitude of what is going on. It’s become my sword. We all need to think a little bit about what we are doing to ourselves, to our children and especially to our country.”
The words will be Twain’s. The passion? All Holbrook.
This article originally appeared in Applause magazine.
It’s been a while since Denver had a taste of the mad science inherent in Jekyll & Hyde, the killer musical perhaps more suited to Halloween than the advent of spring. It is now back at The Buell Theatre, better than ever, and drumming up a few extra chills before the imminent demise of winter.
One of New York’s enduring hits, Jekyll & Hyde, which features a book and lyrics by two-time Academy Award-winning lyricist Leslie Bricusse and a score by Grammy Award-nominated composer Frank Wildhorn, is based as we all know on Robert Louis Stevenson’s infamous tale of a decent scientist’s wild experiment gone bad. A whirlwind odyssey pitting man against himself is set in motion when the brilliant Dr. Jekyll’s medical fooling around backfires, giving life to his evil—and increasingly uncontrollable—alter ego Edward Hyde.
The musical spent some four years on Broadway and on multiple worldwide tours, but the production currently in Denver is an arresting pre-Broadway reinvention. It has a revised script, a slightly different song list, new orchestrations and an impressive new look.
Aside from the central battle between good and evil, this moody musical is loaded with romance, to be introduced this time by a new pair of stars. Tony Award-nominee and “American Idol” sensation Constantine Maroulis joins Grammy Award-nominee and Canadian R&B superstar Deborah Cox to handle the romantic aspects of this haunting tale, as well as inject robust new life into the Stevenson classic scheduled to make a return appearance on Broadway in April.
Maroulis, who shot to fame on “American Idol” and received a 2009 Tony Award nomination for his work in Rock of Ages, plays the dual title role. He is not shy about sharing a life-imitates-art event that he claims instantly connected him to Dr. Jekyll. Dr. Jekyll’s scientific experiment was undertaken in an attempt to help his ailing father; by coincidence, Maroulis’ own Dad was gravely ill when he, the son, was offered the role last year. Playing Dr. Jekyll only strengthened his resolve to give the musical his all.
“I feel you should approach every role with the passion and desire to find everything you need to find as an actor and artist,” he told Playbill at the start of rehearsals last summer. “That’s how I approached Rock of Ages, and that’s how I’d approach Hamlet, which I’d love to do one day. I go about everything the same way.”
Jekyll & Hyde previewed in La Mirada, CA, in September before kicking off its 25-week Broadway-bound national tour in October. The talented Jeff Calhoun is the director/choreographer of this new edition; among Calhoun’s many varied credits are such admired and well-received musicals as the Tony-nominated Newsies, Big River and Grey Gardens.
The original Jekyll & Hyde saw the dark of night in 1990 at Houston’s Alley Theatre, breaking box office records and playing to sold-out houses. At that time, a recording of the musical score yielded all the hit songs that continue to have a strong hold on listeners (“This is the Moment,” “A New Life,” “Someone Like You”), transforming Jekyll & Hyde at the time into something of a theatrical phenomenon.
Despite a mixed critical reception for its original New York run, a 1997 revival at Broadway’s Plymouth Theatre turned things around. It played to sold-out houses and nightly standing ovations, breaking box office records several times and spawning legions of repeat visitors who became known as “Jekkies.” (Some “Jekkies” claim to have seen this show more than 150 times.)
This success is a testament to its creators’ persistence in their pursuit of perfection. When such stars as Liza Minnelli and The Moody Blues began performing and recording its songs, the show gained even greater traction.
While the look may have changed, the mood and the music that first grabbed audiences by the throat are very much there and ready to do it again.
“Any time you have a title with such history and recognition, it’s important to take a fresh look at it,” said Maroulis, who admits to never having seen the musical before being cast in it. Neither, incidentally, had director Calhoun.
“I feel like I’m creating a new role,” Maroulis told Playbill. “We feel we have a really lean and mean script…. Jeff is a very meticulous, detail oriented director. Our approach is very grounded and very real, not over the top.”
This story was assembled from website materials and the Internet
Mat Hostetler is familiar to Denver audiences for for his work with the Denver Center Theatre Company, Creede Repertory Theatre, Colorado Shakespeare Festival and graduate productions at the National Theatre Conservatory. He returns in the national touring premiere of War Horse and took a break to tell us about life since Denver.
Q: So you spent some of your childhood in Glenwood Springs. This is a bit like coming home, right?
A: Absolutely! Perhaps, even more than being my physical home for many years, Colorado has always been my creative home. I started acting when I was in Glenwood and did a lot of community theatre in both Glenwood and Aspen. While in college at the University of Kansas, I came back to Colorado and worked at Creede Rep. Then, after many years away, I came back to Colorado to attend grad school at [National Theatre Conservatory] and had the privilege to work with both the Denver Center and Colorado Shakespeare Festival. So many tremendous teachers and mentors in Colorado have helped me along the way, I’m just so grateful.
Q: So we see that this is your first national Broadway show tour, what’s that like? Good at packing yet?
A: Yeah, I’ve got the packing down to a science! I was terrible for the first few cities, but you learn quickly! It’s been such a thrill, getting the chance to perform in some of the most beautiful and historic theaters in the country. Every week or two, we walk on stage and the house looks completely different. That’s a pretty unique experience.
Q: Tell us about your character, Veterinary Officer Martin.
A: Well, I can’t say much without giving too much away, but he has a pivotal role towards the end of the show. In doing a lot of research about World War I, and specifically about veterinary officers, it’s difficult to fathom what they saw from day to day. The estimated number of horses that were lost in WWI is truly staggering.
Q: How does one person understudy 10 roles? I mean, really, ten?
A: It’s pretty crazy! Fortunately, we have had the opportunity to rehearse every role we understudy, and being in the show every night helps keep it all fresh in our minds. I’ve already gone on in about half those roles, and will likely have done them all before the tour ends. It’s fun to have that different energy on stage from time to time!
Q: You’ve done a lot of television since graduating the National Theatre Conservatory (NTC) and moving to New York. How does TV differ from the stage?
A: I actually really enjoy doing TV. I know, sometimes that’s not the case with stage actors — of course, we all love the paycheck in television – but I really do feel comfortable in that world. Of course, it’s a totally different animal from theatre. As much as I enjoy TV, I’m not certain it could ever hold up to the energy and joy of being on stage every night. There’s nothing like live theatre. I’m very fortunate to get to do both.
Q: And you’ve gotten married since you left Denver, to fellow NTC alum January LaVoy. What’s she up to? How is married life when you’re on the road?
A: January is great! Thanks for asking. When we got married in September of 2011, she made me the happiest and luckiest guy in the world. She’s been doing quite well, just finished a production of Good People at the Pittsburgh Public, and before that was at the Alliance in Atlanta doing the world premiere of What I Learned in Paris by Pearl Cleage. She has also become quite a force in the audiobook world. If you haven’t listened to any of her stuff yet, you should do yourself a favor and pick up The Diviners by Libba Bray. January’s work on it is simply stunning. I know, I’m biased, but still…
And as for married life on the road, it certainly isn’t easy, but we’ve managed it pretty well. We try to see each other once every four to five weeks. We’re racking up tons of airline miles! In the most difficult weeks, we try to remember how lucky we are to be two working actors. It’s a rare thing in this business.
Q: The Colorado audiences miss seeing you. You were certainly a favorite at Colorado Shakespeare Festival (Three Musketeers, Macbeth, Hamlet) and our Theatre Company (Merry Wives of Windsor, Richard III, Christmas Carol, Trip to Bountiful), plus roles at Creede Repertory Theatre. Miss Denver? Fondest memories?
A: Too many to name, really. Three Musketeers was probably the most fun I’ve ever had on stage. Truly. Merry Wives at the Denver Center was a blast as well. Getting to work with that amazing cast — with David Ivers directing. What a treat! And there’s no experience quite like a summer in Creede. But, all in all, I’d have to say the National Theatre Conservatory will always be my fondest memory of my time in Colorado. I’m just so grateful for every minute I spent there.
Q: How long will you be in the first national tour of War Horse? Where will we see you next?
A: I’ll be with War Horse through June. Then it’s back to New York to see what’s next. I’ll keep you posted!
1. The puppet (Joey), which weighs 120lbs, is handmade by 14 people. Its frame is mostly cane, soaked, bent and stained.
2. An aluminum frame along the spine, lined partly with leather for comfort, allows the horse to be ridden.
3. Stretched, hosiery-like Georgette fabric makes up the “skin” beneath the frame.
4. A puppeteer at the head controls the ears and head; one in the heart controls breathing and front legs; a third in the hind controls the tail and back legs.
5. A harness connects the puppet’s and puppeteer’s spines so his or her movements become the breathing of the horse.
6. The tail and ears are moveable instead of the lips or eyelids, because that’s how horses usually express themselves.
7. Two levers connected with bicycle brake cables control the leather ears.
8. The puppet, just under 10ft long and about 8ft tall, has about 20 major joints. Vertical levers curl the knees and lift the hooves.
9. The neck is made of carbon fiber glass for flexibility.
10. The eyes are black color behind clear resin so light refracts through them.
11. The right hind lever moves the tail up and down; the left hind lever, left to right; moved together, it spirals.
12. The hair in the mane and tail is made of Tyvek, a plastic-like paper.
It’s been a little while since you heard those clanging sounds, but Stomp is back in Denver in all its explosive, syncopated glory, with its cast of incredible percussionists who treasure the old adage about one man’s trash…
The troupe still doesn’t look at everyday objects the way the rest of the world does. In its hands, brooms, garbage cans, Zippo lighters (we’re not sure about Grouchos and Harpos) and the general detritus of the 21st century take on a life of their own. Stomp, created and directed by Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas, is an exploration of the outer limits of rhythmic invention. It’s a Pipe (read drain pipe) and Drum (read anything) Corps for our age.
And speaking of age, it has not withered Stomp’s clatter—or fun. Stomp—a concatenation of sound and skill—is back with its rhythms and drumbeats intact.
The same goes for its nonstop movement of bodies, objects, sound—even abstract ideas. There’s no dialogue, speech or plot. But music? Absolutely. Uncommon music, created in nontraditional ways—with every day objects ranging from matchbooks to every household object you can conjure up. You’re bombarded by a caterwauling noise that under any other circumstances you would choose to shut out.
But not here.
Here all is syncopated and choreographed with the precision of an army bugle corps minus the bugles and by the fertile imagination of buskers or street performers from the streets of Brighton, England. Brighton is the place of origin—the spot where Stomp’s creators hail from and where they dreamed up this utterly inventive, unexpected, whacked-out show.
So sit back, relax, tap your feet, clap your hands. There’s only fun to be had here—no political statements, no dialogue to misconstrue, nothing beyond the sheer, surprising sights and sounds of the moment, from the ringing of hollow pipes to clashing metal weaving its spell, and industrial strength dance routines involving a lot of supremely well co-ordinated bodies.
Hold on fast to those hubcaps as you zip yourself downtown to swing along with Stomp!
1973 The original French play La Cage aux Folles written by Jean Poiret premieres at the Theatre du Palais-Royal on February 1. The play starred the playwright Jean Poiret and Michel Serrault. The play ran for almost 1,800 performances. The play was seen by more than one million theatre goers.
1979 French film adaptation of play was directed by Edouard Molinaro. It starred Ugo Tognazzi and Michel Serrault. The film (subtitled “Birds of a Feather” on the US poster) was for many years the most successful foreign film to be released in the US. Unlike many other non-English –language films, the English dubbing was done generally by the original cast.
1980 The French film “La Cage aux Folles II” premiered, also directed by Edouard Molinaro.
1983 The musical La Cage aux Folles opened on August 21 at the Palace Theater on Broadway to great acclaim and popularity. The musical starred Gene Barry and George Hearn.
1985 The French film “La Cage aux Folles III” premiered, directed by Georges Lautner.
1985 The musical La Cage aux Folles opens in Australia and starred Keith Michel and Jon Ewing.
1986 The musical La Cage aux Folles opened in London’s West End starring George Hearn and Denis Quilley.
1996 The American film remake titled The Birdcage directed by Mike Nichols was released, relocated to South Beach, Miami, and starred Robin Williams and Nathan Lane.
2004 The musical La Cage aux Folles opened again on Broadway on December 9 at the Marriott Marquis Theatre starring Gary Beach and Daniel Davis.
2008 The musical La Cage aux Folles opened again in London but this time at the Menier Chocolate Factory to great acclaim, starring Douglas Hodge and Philip Quast.
2010 Another revival of La Cage aux Folles opened on April 18 on Broadway at the Longacre Theater, starring Kelsey Grammer and Douglas Hodge.
2010 A Dutch production opened in November and is still running.
2011 Tony Award-winning revival of La Cage aux Folles begins touring the United States.
STOMP, a unique combination of percussion, movement and visual comedy, was created in Brighton, UK, in the summer of 1991. It was the result of a ten-year collaboration between its creators, Luke Cresswell and Steve McNicholas.
They first worked together in 1981, as members of the street band Pookiesnackenburger and the theatre group, Cliff Hanger. Together, these groups presented a series of street comedy musicals at the Edinburgh festival throughout the early ’80s. After two albums, a UK TV series and extensive touring throughout Europe, Pookiesnackenburger also produced the highly acclaimed “Bins” commercial for Heineken lager. The piece was originally written and choreographed by Luke as part of the band’s stage show; it proved to be the starting point for STOMP’s climactic dustbin dance.
• 1991 — STOMP previewed at the Bloomsbury Theatre (London) and the Assembly Rooms (Edinburgh). Won the Guardian’s “Critic’s Choice” and the Daily Express “Best of the Fringe” Award.
• 1991-1994 — Played to capacity audiences around the world culminating in a sell-out season at Sadler’s Wells Theatre (London). Received an Olivier nomination for “Best Entertainment” and won “Best Choreography in a West End Show.”
• 1994 — STOMP began its run at the Orpheum Theatre (New York). Won both an Obie and a Drama Desk award for “Most Unique Theatre Experience.”
• 1995 — Two US touring companies were formed.
• 1990s-2000s — STOMP has been featured in or created the Tank Girl movie soundtrack, Quincy Jones’ album “Q’s Jook Joint, ” Showtime’s Riot soundtrack, commercials including Coca Cola’s “Ice Pick” and Target, Nickelodean’s “Mr Frears’ Ears,” “Brooms,” the Academy Awards, HBO’s “STOMP Out Loud,” Sesame Street’s “Let’s Make Music” special, and the PULSE: a STOMP Odyssey IMAX movie.
• 2002 —Entered London’s West End at the Vaudeville theatre and performed as part of the Royal Variety Show for the second time.
• 2004 — New York celebrated 10 years of continuous performances of STOMP at the Orpheum Theatre by renaming 2nd Avenue at 8th Street: STOMP Avenue.
• 2006, STOMP’s New York production passed its 5000th performance mark.
• 2007 — The original creators were asked to create and produce the Lost and Found Orchestra, which takes the ideas behind STOMP to a symphonic level to mark 40 years of the Brighton Festival. It was also performed at the Sydney Opera House.
• 2007 — STOMP OUT LOUD opened in Las Vegas at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino with an expanded cast and performed inside a new $28 million theater specifically created for the production.
Denver Center Attractions announces an extended season featuring hits straight from Broadway for 2013/14. New this year, the season includes increased payment plan options. For as low as eight payments of $35.63, subscribers will see all 11 shows featuring Tony Award-winning shows such as the 2012 Best Musical ONCE, War Horse, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, EVITA, Million Dollar Quartet and, launching the national tour in Denver, Peter and the Starcatcher – winner of five Tony Awards, the most of any play in 2012.
Kicking off the season January 8 – 20, 2013 is War horse in The Buell Theatre. Winner offive 2011 Tony Awards, WAR HORSE is a remarkable tale of courage, loyalty and friendship. As World War I begins, Joey, young Albert’s beloved horse, is sold to the cavalry and shipped from England to France. He’s soon caught up in enemy fire, and fate takes him on an extraordinary journey, serving on both sides before finding himself alone in no man’s land. But Albert cannot forget Joey and, still not old enough to enlist, he embarks on a treacherous mission to find him and bring him home.At its heart are astonishing life-sized puppets created by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, that bring to life breathing, galloping, charging horses strong enough for men to ride. warhorseonstage.com
“American Idol” star and Tony Award-nominee Constantine Maroulis joins with Grammy Award-nominee and R&B superstar Deborah Cox to inject new life into the classic tale of good and evil with Jekyll & Hyde January 29 – February 10, 2013 in The Buell Theatre. After four thrilling, chilling years on Broadway and multiple world-wide tours, this dark and dangerous love story from Tony and Grammy Award-nominee Frank Wildhorn and Oscar and Grammy-winner Leslie Bricusse returns in a newly-reimagined pre-Broadway production that includes all the classic songs like “This is the Moment,” “A New Life” and “Someone Like You” that first grabbed audiences by the throat and transformed JEKYLL & HYDE into a theatrical phenomenon. jekyllandhydemusical.com
Catch Me if You Can, based on the hit DreamWorks film and the incredible true story that inspired it, plays The Buell Theatre February 26 – March 10, 2013. This high-flying, splashy new Broadway musical tells the story of Frank W. Abagnale, Jr., a teenager who runs away from home in search of the glamorous life. With nothing more than his boyish charm, a big imagination and millions of dollars in forged checks, Frank successfully poses as a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer — living the high life and winning the girl of his dreams. But when Frank’s lies catch the attention of FBI agent Carl Hanratty, Carl chases Frank to the end…and finds something he never expected. Don’t miss this big-hearted musical adventure based on an astonishing real-life story of being young, in love…and in deep, deep trouble. CatchMeOnTour.com
Spring of 2013, The Doyle & Debbie SHOW plays The Garner Galleria Theatre. This new hit musical featuring all-original songs is sublime homage and parody, simultaneously idolizing and lampooning country music’s tradition of iconic duos and the battle of the sexes that accompany them. Doyle Mayfield, an old-guard country star with a handful of hits back in the 70s and 80s, is reviving his career thirty years, four wives, and three Debbies later. The new Debbie, a single mother with three children, sees this lovable lothario as her last chance to make it big in Nashville – but she also questions hitching her star to this loose cannon. Fresh off an eight month stop in Chicago, Nashville’s perennial favorites Doyle and Debbie venture west to take Denver audiences on a wickedly funny and freewheeling joyride. The Doyle & Debbie SHOW is sponsored by MolsonCoors. doyleanddebbie.com
Denver audiences will see a big beautiful musical make its world premiere when SENSE & SENSIBILITY THE MUSICAL plays The Stage Theatre April 5 – May 26, 2013. With book and lyrics by Jeffrey Haddow, music by Neal Hampton and based on the novel by Jane Austen, this sparkling new musical is full of passion and wit. Sisters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, opposites in temperament, struggle to find love and happiness in one of literature’s most beloved romances. When half-brother John inherits their father’s estate, the sisters, now virtually penniless, move to a rural cottage to make do as best they can … but not even desperate financial circumstances can keep love at bay. An all-star team of Broadway champions has been assembled for this thrilling new production, including Director/Choreographer Marcia Milgrom Dodge, whose recent Broadway revival of Ragtime received seven Tony Award nominations, including Best Direction of a Musical; Costume Designer Emilio Sosa, “Project Runway”, 2012 Tony nominee for The Gershwin’s Porgy & Bess;Set Designer Allan Moyer, Tony nominee for Grey Gardens, and acclaimed Broadway/London Lighting Designer James F. Ingalls. Producing Partners include: The Anschutz Foundation, Joy S. Burns, Daniel L. Ritchie, June Travis. SENSE & SENSIBILITY THE MUSICAL is sponsored by U.S. Bank and The Ritz-Carlton.
Peter and the Starcatcher, the most mayhem-filled evening of madcap fun on Broadway, will launch the national tour here in Denver at The Ellie Caulkins Opera House August 15 – September 1, 2013. Hailed by The New York Times as “The most exhilarating storytelling on Broadway in decades,” this hilarious romp through the Neverland you never knew won five Tony Awards – the most of any play in 2012 – and Broadway.com’s Audience Choice Award as Favorite New Play. Based on the best-selling Disney-Hyperion novel by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, Peter and the Starcatcher is the thrilling passage to a time when the world’s most important battle was being fought by a glum orphan boy and his exuberant leader. A dozen brilliant actors play more than 100 unforgettable characters using their enormous talent, ingenious stagecraft and the limitless possibilities of imagination to tell the story of a nameless boy who becomes Peter Pan. Peter and the Starcatcher is sponsored by The Ritz-Carlton. peterandthestarcatcher.com
An international hit with more than 500 dazzling 2011 Tony Award-winning costumes, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, plays The Buell Theatre September 3 – 15, 2013. Priscilla features a hit parade of dance-floor favorites including “It’s Raining Men,” “Finally” and “I Will Survive.” This spectacular show tells the uplifting story of a trio of friends on a road trip of a lifetime, who hop aboard a battered old bus searching for love and friendship in the middle of the Australian outback and end up finding more than they could ever have dreamed.
Raise your voice; SISTER ACT plays The Buell Theatre September 24 – October 6, 2013. SISTER ACT is Broadway’s feel-amazing musical comedy smash. Featuring original music by eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Little Shop of Horrors), Sister Act tells the story of Deloris Van Cartier, a wannabe diva whose life takes a surprising turn when she witnesses a crime and the cops hide her in the last place anyone would think to look—a convent. Under the suspicious watch of Mother Superior, Deloris helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she unexpectedly rediscovers her own. A sparkling tribute to the universal power of friendship, Sister Act is reason to rejoice!
Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Tony Award-winning musical returns at last! EVITA plays The Buell Theatre January 2014. Eva Perón used her beauty and charisma to rise meteorically from the slums of Argentina to the presidential mansion as First Lady. Adored by her people as a champion for the poor, she became one of the most powerful women in the world — while her greed, outsized ambition and fragile health made her one of the most tragic. EVITA tells Eva’s passionate and unforgettable true story, and features some of theater’s most beautiful songs, including “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina,” “Another Suitcase in Another Hall” and “High Flying, Adored.” Don’t miss the stunning new production, directed by Michael Grandage and choreographed by Rob Ashford.
Million Dollar Quartet, the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, inspired by the electrifying true story of the famed recording session that brought together rock ’n’ roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for the first and only time, plays The Buell Theatre February 25– March 9, 2014. On December 4, 1956, these four young musicians were gathered together by Sam Phillips, the “Father of Rock ’n’ Roll” at Sun Records in Memphis for what would be one of the greatest jam sessions of all time. Million Dollar Quartet brings that legendary night to life with an irresistible tale of broken promises, secrets, betrayal and celebrations featuring timeless hits including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “That’s All Right,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “I Walk the Line,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Who Do You Love?,” “Matchbox,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Hound Dog” and more. This thrilling musical brings you inside the recording studio with four major talents who came together as a red-hot rock ’n’ roll band for one unforgettable night. Don’t miss your chance to be a fly on the wall of fame… at Million Dollar Quartet! milliondollarquartetlive.com
ONCE, Broadway’s 2012 Tony Award-winning best musical plays The Buell Theatre April/May 2014. Based on the Academy Award-winning film, it tells the story of an Irish musician and a Czech immigrant drawn together by their shared love of music. Over the course of one fateful week, their unexpected friendship and collaboration evolves into a powerful but complicated romance, heightened by the raw emotion of the songs they create together. Brought to the stage by an award-winning team of visionary artists and featuring an ensemble cast of gifted actor/musicians, once is a musical celebration of life and love: thrilling in its originality, daring in its honesty…and unforgettable in every way. oncemusical.com
DCA subscribers receive priority access to added attractions in 2013/14 prior to the general public. Additional subscriber benefits include preferred seating, free ticket exchanges and various special offers throughout the season. Season subscribers can purchase tickets to these added attractions NOW: White Christmas (Nov 23-Dec 24, 2012), Chicago (March 19-24, 2013), Spamalot (March 28-30, 2013), Blue Man Group (April 12-21, 2013), Mary Poppins (May 1-5, 2013)and Les MisÉrables (May 22-26, 2013).
Denver Center Attractions 2013/14 subscription packages start at just eight easy payments of $35.63. Restrictions apply. To purchase a subscription, please call Denver Center Ticket Services: 303.893.4100 or 800.641.1222, or visit the ticket office located in the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex at Speer & Arapahoe. Subscription packages also can be purchased online at www.denvercenter.org/bwaysubs. Single tickets are not available at this time.
The Denver Center Attractions 2013/14 season is generously sponsored by United Airlines and Vectra Bank. Media sponsorship for Denver Center Attractions is provided by The Denver Post and CBS4. Denver Center Attractions is supported in part by the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District.
Jersey Boys returns to Denver’s Buell Theatre July 17-August 11, 2012. Find out about the show before you go!
- 52 people are in the traveling company of Jersey Boys
- Of the 19 actors, many play multiple roles:
- Hank Majewski plays 8 other parts
- Norman Waxman plays 10 others parts
- Joe Pesci and Mary Delgado each play 11 other parts
- Detective Two (“Knuckles”) and Lorraine each play 15 other parts
- Barry Belson plays 16 other parts
- Francine plays 17 other parts
Casting the show
- 7 weeks to cast the show throughout 11 cities. The process includes pre-screens with casting team, callbacks for the creative team (casting team, the music director, the production supervisor and the dance department) and final callbacks with Des McAnuff. During the finals, the room often includes Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio and the producers.
- Actors are asked not to sing songs from the show, but many elect to sing other songs by The Four Seasons.
- The Four Seasons sold 175 million records worldwide — all before they were 30.
- 33 songs are in the show, including five #1 hits and 11 songs that made Billboard’s top ten.
- The songs in the show represent work by 34 songwriters, including Otis Blackwell, Dorothy Fields, Louis Prima and Judy Parker. Most of the hits were written by original member of The Four Seasons Bob Gaudio and their producer/lyricist, Bob Crewe.
- 609 Lighting Cues
- 401 Conventional Lighting Units
- 77 Moving Lights
- 196 total costumes/looks in the show, including some vintage suits, ties and dresses.
- Tommy has 12 costume changes, Nick has 11, Frankie has 15 and Bob has 10.
- Frankie runs through 1 pair of pants each week, with repairs every other day. (He slides on his knees in the number “Beggin’”)
- 9 seconds - Fastest quick change in the show, for Mary Delgado to get out of the car and into her robe for “My Eyes Adored You”
- 12 quick changes for Frankie Valli. His shortest quick change is 15 seconds.
- 5 hours – time spent per week hand-beading repairs to the “Snowflake” dresses. Originally beaded by machine.
- 87 shoes used in one performance
- 2.4 miles - Distance a dresser will walk/run during a day, including day work, pre-show call, working the show and post-show work.
- 65 microphones used in the show, both wireless and hard-wired.
- The full sound system includes 120 speakers
- 75,000 watts of amplification are used to power the sound system
- 15 people spent 12 weeks to hand build the sound console